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Vanity with Mirror

Decorative Arts

On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The City and the Rise of the Modern Woman, 1900–1945
Aerodynamic streamlining is characteristic of much American industrial and domestic design of the late 1920s and 1930s. Undecorated, curved designs, as seen here, are well suited to machine production and expressive of speed and change. The vanity and stool are made of chromed metal tubing, an innovation in furniture construction pioneered in the early 1920s by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus, the seminal German school for modern design. It was still a startling new material a decade later.

Although the vanity is gender-specific, this stark, modern interpretation has a limited palette and is made of new materials with hard surfaces. Updating an old form, Kem Weber transformed it for the modern woman.
MEDIUM Chrome-plated tubular steel, wood, glass
DATES 1934
DIMENSIONS 55 x 33 x 19 1/2 in. (139.7 x 83.8 x 49.5 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS no marks
SIGNATURE no signature
INSCRIPTIONS no inscriptions
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
ACCESSION NUMBER 87.123.1a-b
CREDIT LINE Modernism Benefit Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Kem Weber (American, born Germany, 1889-1963). Vanity with Mirror, 1934. Chrome-plated tubular steel, wood, glass, 55 x 33 x 19 1/2 in. (139.7 x 83.8 x 49.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Modernism Benefit Fund, 87.123.1a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 87.123.1a-b_87.123.2_reference_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE group, 87.123.1a-b_87.123.2_reference_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Vanity table (a) with attached mirror (b), en suite with stool (87.123.2). Vanity composed of tubular steel structure forming base, legs and braces that support black-painted wood tabletop with drawer. Rising from rear of wood top, asymmetrically supported by three flat, vertical, chrome-plated pieces and semi-circular tubular steel piece is a circular mirror. CONDITION: Splits in veneer on tabletop.
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